In the biggest shake-up to the open show scene for more than a generation, the Kennel Club has announced new measures to increase interest in this important and essential side of dog showing through the introduction of three new awards. In addition, the qualifications for the Junior Warrant award and the criteria for premier open shows have been changed to encourage more entries and give confidence to show organisers to schedule more classes and more breeds.
The three new awards, being introduced in 2019, are the Show Certificate of Excellence, Open Show Winners title and Veteran Warrant.
These changes have all come about as a result of extensive consultation between the Kennel Club and show societies, exhibitors, judges and other interested parties, which began with the formation of the Dog Show Promotion Working Party four years ago and continued throughout its work.
Mark Cocozza, chairman of the working party, said: “With these reforms, we want people to look at the wider picture. Regulations have been relaxed, eligibility for awards expanded and simplified and the awards and titles are now available throughout a dog’s showing career, all with the aim of encouraging more exhibitors at open shows. The Kennel Club can put the infrastructure in place, but in the final analysis, the success of a show very much depends upon the willingness of the society to put on a good event and upon exhibitors supporting it.
“These enhancements to the show scene follow on from previously announced initiatives including the relaxation of the ‘beaten dog’ regulation, the allowing of judges not on B lists to judge 4(6) classes of a breed at open shows provided a puppy class is scheduled, and the requirement for breed clubs to work with general open show societies to schedule classes where input on the choice of judge will be offered. We are hopeful that these initiatives will make exhibiting at open shows a much more attractive prospect in the coming years.”
The Kennel Club has further announced that the winner of Best Imported Register will be eligible to compete in the group at open and championship shows and, in a move designed to encourage novice exhibitors, the Kennel Club is to sponsor a Special Beginner Group competition, for a two-year trial, at participating general and group championship shows as of 2018.
The Junior Warrant will offer more points from more classes to improve opportunities for numerically smaller breeds to gain their JW title. There will be more points to be won at open shows but fewer dogs to beat to gain the point, and exhibitors can begin working towards the new-style Junior Warrant as of 2018 with any puppy born on or after 1st July 2017.
In a further change, the Show Certificate of Merit is to be replaced by the new Show Certificate of Excellence (ShCEx), with points only available at open shows and the new award to be opened up to Imported Register breeds.
A new title will be introduced – Open Show Winners title (OSW) for dogs which have gained the revised JW and the new ShCEx. The title will be added to the front of the dog’s name on its Kennel Club record. This is a further measure to encourage open show entries.
Another warrant title will be made available – the Veteran Warrant (VW) for dogs from 7 years of age with points only available at open shows from AV Veteran Classes.
The JW, ShCEx and VW titles provide opportunities for dogs to have a longer career at open shows and for exhibitors to enter additional dogs and particularly their more mature ones.
These three new awards will add to the array of prestigious awards already on offer at Kennel Club shows, and the Kennel Club is confident they will act as added incentive for exhibitors to enter their dogs at such events.
In a further move, general canine societies can now choose whether to schedule a Premier Open Show without having to achieve the established five class average. The show must be run on the group system and schedule 50 per cent or more of the recognised breeds in each group. Dogs placed 1st to 4th in the group and 1st to 4th in the puppy group will all qualify for Crufts. This along with the recently announced requirement for breed clubs to sponsor classes will provide more opportunities for exhibitors to qualify for Crufts and more opportunities for judges to gain valuable hands-on experience.
Kennel Club Show Regulations have been changed, with effect from 1st January 2018, to formalise the current suspensions to allow dogs to be entered into variety classes without having to have been exhibited in a breed class. These changes also include allowing dogs declared Best of Breed, Best Any Variety Not Separately Classified but beaten in variety classes to challenge for the group and best in show, and similarly beaten puppies may challenge for the puppy group and best puppy in show.
The Best Puppy regulations have been simplified and are now the same for open and championship shows. Up to now there were different eligibility regulations at these types of show. The eligibility for Best in Show at open shows not judged on the group system is now the same as at shows judged on the group system – only dogs declared best of breed and best AVNSC are eligible to compete for best in show.
The working party has also changed the Best in Group regulation to allow dogs declared Best Imported Register to compete in the relevant group and/or Best in Show competition at both open and championship shows. This is an improvement for these breeds which will no longer have to be satisfied with a mere lap of honour in the group ring.
Mark Cocozza said: “This open show shake-up represents the change which people have been telling us they wanted throughout a lengthy consultation process. Now the changes have been announced, we very much hope that everyone will work together to use these innovations to revitalise entries at open shows. We also hope that show societies, working alongside breed clubs, will provide the opportunities for exhibitors to work towards these new titles and awards and that exhibitors will increase their support for open shows.
“We have amended awards, brought in new ones and tried to be as inclusive as possible; for example, by allowing the Imported Register breeds to be able to work towards gaining the new ShCEx title and allowing points to be gained from variety classes at open shows. This in turn will give judges the opportunity to learn about the numerically smaller breeds while at the same time giving the breeds themselves valuable exposure. We are also hopeful that show societies will be encouraged to schedule more classes for breeds such as these.
“But these changes will only be effective in improving the open show scene if everyone works together. The Kennel Club can provide the tools for the holding of successful shows, but unless the shows are well supported by the exhibitors and well run by the show societies, the reality may be rather different.
“The breed clubs also have a part to play in this whole process – by encouraging show societies to give their breed a judge of their choosing and an attractive classification and by publicising the show to their membership. Together we can all make a difference if the drive to succeed is truly there. These changes are aimed at making open shows as thriving as they were in previous decades.”